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Life in the Calm Lane

Four easy ways to keep your stress in check

BLOW OFF SOME STEAM

A recent Swedish study found that when stressed-out health care workers got together with others in similar situations to vent, they significantly reduced their levels of work-related stress and burnout. In other words, while friends and family are good for unloading, the best stress relief comes from talking shit about your job with someone who has experienced the same type of stress.

ORDER A LARGE COFFEE

But don't drink it! You may be able to de-stress by simply sniffing the aroma. When Korean researchers gave a bunch of sleep-deprived, stressed-out rats a whiff of java, it sent the levels of stress-related activity going on in their bodies plummeting. Already have a daily Dunkin' habit? Pop the top off your cup to really free up that relaxing coffee scent. And buy decaf.

BUY SOME GOOD HEADPHONES

Research has repeatedly shown that violent video games increase stress levels in players. But Canadian researchers made an interesting finding recently. When they had gamers turn off the sound while playing, their brains produced significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol — meaning the noise of the game is what may have been setting off the stress response. Work in a noisy, hyper-loud office? Crank up your iPod or find some other way to block the noise, and your stress may ease up as well.

GRAB A YOGA CLASS

NFL players like Armani Toomer and Jon Dorenbos, and other pro athletes, are incorporating yoga into their workouts. Indian researchers found that regular yoga sessions can help improve your mental health — and reduce some symptoms of stress — in as little as 10 days.

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